Comorbid: Comorbidities of Covid 19
As strange as it may sound, it’s common for people to be diagnosed with multiple illnesses or conditions at once. This condition is known as comorbidity. With the advent of Covid 19, comorbid has gained more popularity.
Comorbidities are multiple disorders in a person at the same time. For example, if a person is diagnosed with both social anxiety disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), they are said to have comorbid (meaning co-existing) anxiety and depressive disorders
Other comorbid conditions include physical ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, and dementia. Mental health conditions that tend to show comorbidity include eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.
The term comorbidity was coined in the 1970s by A.R. Feinstein, a renowned American doctor and epidemiologist. Feinstein demonstrated comorbidity through the example of how people with rheumatic fever also usually suffered from multiple other diseases.
Since that time, comorbidity has come to be associated with the presence of multiple mental or physical health conditions in the same person.
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How do comorbidities affect COVID-19?
In June 2020, a study examined the belief that COVID-19 in a person with underlying health conditions or comorbidities “has an increasingly rapid and severe progression, often leading to death.” The researchers looked at all the available data and found that having comorbidities also increases the chances of coronavirus infection. They also concluded that patients with a history of hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease have the worst prognosis. And that most often end up with deteriorating outcomes. These outcomes include the life-threatening lung injury ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and pneumonia.
Comorbidities are a serious health concern. This is because the presence of two or more conditions increases the chances of hospitalization and the risk of death. It also affects quality of life. When a person experiences comorbid conditions, they may have a compromised immune system or need additional care that exposes them to others. Plus, they may already be experiencing complications from the underlying condition that puts increased stress on their body. According to a study published by the Annals of Family Medicine, “Comorbidity is associated with worse health outcomes, more complex clinical management, and increased health care costs.”
CDC list of comorbid conditions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of comorbid conditions in COVID-19 patients, which includes:
- chronic kidney disease,
- heart disease,
- Down syndrome,
- pregnancy, and
- type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Because COVID-19 is a new disease, there’s not a lot of data on how other underling conditions affect COVID-19 severity. But the CDC says there might be an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 if the patient also has moderate to severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), dementia, and type 1 diabetes mellitus, among other conditions.
Comorbidities and the COVID-19 vaccine
The opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine comes as welcome news to those who live with chronic health conditions. For Dr. Addy, it’s an important development. “Patients with comorbidities should get vaccinated as early as possible,” he says.
Whether you’ve been vaccinated or not, if you live with a chronic health condition, it’s even more important that you follow the hygiene and safety guidelines set out by the CDC. In other words, limit person-to-person contact, wear masks in public areas, and be super vigilant about hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
It’s also important to reduce the risk of medication interactions, so if you live with multiple conditions or disorders, make sure your doctor knows all prescribed med and over-the-counter drugs you’re taking.